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By JOHN ARTHUR, Californian executive editor
READER: Since when is a four hit baseball game front page news and the death of 19 American heroes on page 17?
Is your staff on vacation? Who is running your show? Where are your values? You guys better rush home from your vacay and get rid of your temp editors.
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-- Tina Nichols, Bakersfield
READER: (Sunday), 19 hotshot firefighters died while fighting an Arizona wildfire, a heartbreaking tragedy. It was the lead story on CNN.com, the LA Times, and U-T San Diego to name a few news outlets. The front page of the Bakersfield Californian was a full page picture of an L.A. Dodger.
It is impossible to fathom why your paper thought the Dodgers were more newsworthy and important than these brave, selfless firefighters.
-- Vicki Lynch
ARTHUR: Yes, we screwed up and I take responsibility. As you know, every Monday paper is a Sports special. We do change when big news break out and we should have changed last Sunday night. We did have it stripped across the top of the front page; I assume you saw that. But believe me, I felt worse about it than you do.
The story broke very late; our page 1 editor that night was the first to alert me, before news bulletins from any other media organizations. Word had filtered out that authorities had lost contact with the firefighters but the news really didn't break until about 9 p.m.
It actually wasn't the top story in Monday's L.A Times (not even number 2) and there was no extended live cable news coverage Sunday night that I could find.
But that's no excuse for us. We caught up during the week, with heavy coverage, a front page picture and mini-profiles of all the men who perished. We have published a major story or more every day since this happened.
Thanks for your notes.
READER: Your reporting the activities and posting pictures of "gay" people is getting very disgusting. Don't you have more important news to report??
There are much more important issues you could report that would interest people of all walks of life. After about 50 years of reading your newspaper, I am considering cancelling my subscription. Please remember that there are more people in this county than "gays."
-- Lydia Handel-Castro, Bakersfield
READER: COME ON MAN, TWO GUYS KISSING ON YOUR FRONT PAGE? I'm canceling my sub. You people crossed the line.
-- J.L. Powell, Bakersfield
VARIOUS CALLERS echoed these complaints, saying "enough is enough" and "I'm not with the gay bit. Enough with it in the paper. See that it stops. I'm getting a little sick and tired of it all the hooopla."
ARTHUR: Well, yes, the gay marriage debate has dragged on a bit, with many reversals for all sides. On the other hand, some would say it has been moving faster than that bullet train we keep hearing about.
Public opinion has shifted very quickly, and a story we ran this week said 62 percent of Americans surveyed agree with the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings.
My colleague Robert Price wrote back to one irked reader:
"With all due respect, you must be kidding. This is a story with huge, historic ramifications. That, you must agree, is undeniable. The massive opposition to same-sex marriage is a part of the story, and it has been covered thoroughly and will continue to be covered. If you can think of a better way to photographically illustrate the fact that gays appear to have won this legal round and can now marry in California, let us know. But please don't confuse your dislike for same-sex issues/marriages/etc with our coverage of it. This is our world; we cover it."
I would agree. A significant minority in California won the right to marry, so -- big surprise -- people got married! And we took pictures.
Didn't anyone take pictures at your wedding?
READER: What a great day (Friday) to sit down with my morning paper and a cup of coffee. The positive and enjoyable comments from Danny Morrison (Can an African American speak about equal rights for gays?). "Our View" on the IRS scandal, and the diverse views expressed on The Sounding Board. It gives me reason to hope that civil discussion will prevail and unite US. Thank you Californian.
-- Ruth Richardson, Bakersfield
ARTHUR: Thanks, Ruth!